After a three day snow-out, Ben Hogan dominated the competition with a 12-under-par performance and went on to win by nine strokes. He arrived in Greensboro with a North/South Open win, the first of his career.
Ben Hogan won a tournament that was delayed three days by snow. Hogan played 36 spectacular holes on the Thursday following the scheduled final round to win by nine strokes at Sedgefield.
Sam Byrd, former backup player for Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees, produced a final-round rally to win the tournament. Byrd is still the only Major League Baseball player to win a PGA TOUR event.
Byron Nelson won the tournament at Starmount Forest Country Club during his record-setting streak of 11 straight PGA TOUR wins. Nelson defeated Sam Byrd by eight strokes.
Tall Vic Gheszi played the ball and the mud with equal skill to win the tournament in which no golfer broke par in 72 holes of stroke play.
With what PGA TOUR officials called the largest crowd ever on the winter tour watching, Sam Snead won with rounds of 66-70-66-67 in perfect springtime weather at Sedgefield. The tournament actually ran out of tickets, and officials went to Cone Mills to print more for the weekend.
Sam Snead finished tied for first with Dave Doyle and seemed headed to a playoff. However, the playoff never happened because the tournament was settled after a rules discussion regarding Snead’s second shot at the 17th hole at Star- mount. At the par-3, Snead’s tee shot landed in the creek, and he incorrectly played the ball on the green side of the creek. Long after play was complete, he was assessed a two-stroke penalty, giving him a new four-round total of 279. The resulting penalty moved Snead from a tie for first place to third, two strokes behind Doyle, who shot 277 and was declared the winner.
Since its inception in 1938, the tournament alternated between Sedgefield and Starmount Forest Country Clubs. The 1960 tournament followed a hard winter in the Piedmont Triad, and at tournament time, Starmount wasn’t in the best of conditions. After winning the tournament for the seventh time, Snead jokingly suggested that Starmount owner Edward Benjamin spend some of his money to fix up the course before the next tournament. Benjamin was not amused and banned Snead from Starmount for life making Sedgefield the then permanent home of the tournament. Also in 1960, Thorne Wood fired a first-round 66 and became the first left-handed golfer in PGA TOUR history to lead an official event.
When Mose Kiser Jr. and his colleagues began preparations for the 1961 GGO, the Civil Rights Act was still some four years down the road and the impact of the Feb. 1, 1960, Greensboro Sit-Ins at Woolworth’s was just beginning to be felt across the nation. With full support from the host club, Sedgefield, the tournament decided it was time to open its arms across the racial divide and issued a personal invitation to Charlie Sifford to participate in the 1961 tournament. Sifford, a seasoned and accomplished competitor who grew up caddying in Charlotte, graciously accepted, becoming the first African- American to play in a PGA TOUR event in the Old South. Sifford had already played in a TOUR event in California. Sifford led the first round at Greensboro with a 68, trailed by only three strokes after three rounds and wound up tied for fourth behind winner Mike Souchak, Sam Snead and Billy Maxwell. There were some racial hecklers along the way, but, for the most part, he was welcomed in a dignified manner befitting his stature in the game and in his native state. Six months later, the Caucasian Clause came out of the PGA TOUR bylaws.
Sam Snead won his PGA TOUR record-setting eighth Greater Greensboro Open. He won the first GGO in 1938, and when he won his eighth 27 years later, he became the TOUR’s oldest tournament winner at age 52 years, 10 months and eight days. The tournament hosted its first champion’s banquet and honored Snead on the occasion of his 25th appearance in the Greater Greensboro Open. Ed Sullivan was the Toastmaster.
While corporate sponsorship was something tournament organizers wanted to avoid, it was taking hold and threatening independent tournaments. However, the tournament finally decided to take at least a partial step toward commercial help. The decision came when Allied Chemical, a major supplier of the textile industry, approached the tournament about becoming a limited partner in the tournament sponsorship. Doug Galyon, a member of the tournament’s executive committee, was asked to be the liaison in the negotiations and a deal was struck beginning with the 1966 GGO. Allied would be called a participating sponsor in exchange for providing the first prize money of $20,000. “That enabled us to go to a six-figure ($100,000) purse for the first time,” Galyon recalls. “That took us to the next level of tournaments on the tour, and Allied used it an occasion to entertain its customers during tournament week.” The first corporate sponsorship for the Piedmont Triad’s PGA TOUR event eventually led to a title sponsor, though that would not come until two decades later.
Billy Casper won the tournament at Sedgefield, his second victory in this event. The final round was postponed due to the April 4 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Four players competed in a five-hole sudden-death playoff, the largest playoff in tournament history. Gene Littler sank a curling 12-foot putt at the 15th hole to defeat Julius Boros, Orville Moody and Tom Weiskopf.
Arnold Palmer was the leader or tied for the lead after each of the first three rounds of the tournament. Gary Player fired a final-round 65 to win the tournament by two strokes at Sedgefield Country Club; it was the lowest final-round score by a tournament winner at Sedgefield. Palmer finished tied for fifth, five shots back.
Arnold Palmer held a two-stroke lead in the final round when he teed off on the par-three 16th hole at Sedgefield and appeared headed to an easy victory. Palmer put his tee shot into the creek beside the 16th green and tried to play out of the shallow water there. That decision cost him the tournament as he recorded a triple-bogey six and finished third. George Archer defeated Tommy Aaron on the second hole of the playoff to win the tournament.
Al Geiberger won the Greater Greensboro Open in what was then the last tournament at Sedgefield Country Club. Geiberger defeated Lee Trevino by two strokes to claim the $46,000 first-place check. The tournament moved to Forest Oaks Country Club the following year where it stayed for 31 years.
Playing in his first United States tournament, Spain’s Seve Ballesteros won the Greater Greensboro Open at age 20 years and 11 months. However, Ballesteros did not return to defend his title and never played in the tournament again.
Fayetteville’s Raymond Floyd defeated George Burns and Gary Player in a playoff at Forest Oaks and became the first North Carolina native to win the event. Two-time winner Davis Love III is the only other native North Carolinian to win it.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼The GGO’s 50th anniversary was marked by the tournament’s final step into the world of corporate sponsorship. K- Mart came aboard as the title sponsor, enabling the tournament to return to the level of the PGA TOUR elite with a $1 million purse – for the four previous tournaments, the purse fell below the tour average. Now it was above the average by more than $200,000. The 50th anniversary also turned into a major homecoming. Snead returned, as did two-time winner Byron Nelson and a long line of other past winners. Snead, Nelson, Raymond Floyd and Lanny Wadkins were featured speakers at the celebra- tion banquet, following a special nine-hole pro-am at Sedgefield for former champions and GGO regulars from earlier days.
￼Meantime, before and just following the 50th anniversary tournament, perhaps the most significant negotiations in GGO history to date were under way. When the smoke cleared, Greensboro, which had been stuck for years with the week just before the Masters, had new dates two weeks following the Augusta classic. It also returned to the PGA TOUR’s national broadcast TV schedule on CBS Sports. Sandy Lyle won the K-Mart Greater Greensboro Open in a sudden-death playoff with Ken Green, who was best known for his green golf shoes.
There have been many stirring finishes to the GGO, KGGO, GGCC (Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic), Chrysler Classic of Greensboro and now the Wyndham Championship. But, perhaps the one that many now refer to as the granddaddy of them all occurred in 1992 and was produced by one of only two North Carolinians ever to win here – Davis Love III. He started the final round three shots behind, yet won the tournament by a whopping six strokes, posting a course-record 31-31–62 that included two eagles on holes where he did not even have to putt.
￼After birdies at the first two holes, he hit a 117-yard wedge to the seventh that landed about six inches behind the pin and backed up into the cup for an eagle two. When he came to the par five 15th, he had birdied three more times and was comfortably in the lead. But his heroics were not over. He smashed a 310-yard drive onto the flat of the distant hill, then sailed a 1-iron over the green and into the back bunker. Not to worry; he blasted out perfectly – right into the cup for an eagle three. The crowd erupted into a celebration seldom, if ever, equaled in the history of the tournament. Many in the crowd were good friends, including many former classmates at UNC Chapel Hill. Amazingly, he almost holed out for another eagle on the very next hole, his pitching wedge approach stopping barely two inches to the right of the pin. “That’s one that should have gone in,” Love was quoted as saying later, only partly in jest. It was that kind of day, one that will endure as long as stories of great golf days and Greensboro are recounted.
Rocco Mediate and 1990 champion Steve Elkington went head-to-head for four playoff holes following regulation play. Mediate pulled out the win earning his second-career PGA TOUR win.
The Chrysler Classic of Greensboro hired Tournament Director Mark Brazil to bring consistency to the tournament. Brazil would work closely with the Greensboro Jaycees to stage the tournament each year.
In 2003, the tournament moved from its traditional spring date to the fall and became the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro. With the new name came a renewed Forest Oaks Country Club. The original Ellis Maples course was redesigned by Davis Love III and his course design company. The new design added length and “bite” to the course increasing total yard- age to 7,311. Daimler-Chrysler increased its involvement as the tournament purse grew to $5 million making the Chrysler Classic the most lucrative stop in the Tour’s “Fall Finish.”
In 2005, the Greensboro Jaycees Charitable Foundation Board was formed to oversee tournament operations. Immediately after the formation of the board, tournament director Mark Brazil began reporting directly to the Greensboro Jay- cees Charitable Foundation Board rather than the Greensboro Jaycees. When the PGA TOUR announced its re-alignment, the Piedmont Triad’s PGA TOUR event earned a coveted date during the FedEx Cup portion of the season starting in 2007. The Triad’s PGA TOUR stop become the last regular-season event before the four-tournament FedEx Cup Championship series.
In January, the tournament learned that the Daimler-Chrysler Corporation would not return as the title sponsor in 2007 making 2006 the final year of the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro. Just prior to the 2006 tournament, Wyndham World- wide was introduced as the new title sponsor of the Piedmont Triad’s PGA TOUR event. The tournament would be called the Wyndham Championship starting in 2007 removing Greensboro from the tournament’s name for the first time. Davis Love III became just the eighth multiple winner of the Piedmont Triad’s PGA TOUR event when he won the 2006 tournament record- ing four rounds in the 60s. The man who did the re-design of the Forest Oaks Country Club layout just three years earlier battled cold, wet conditions to win the tournament by two strokes over Jason Bohn. Love, who also won the event in 1992, joined Sam Snead (8), Sandy Lyle (2), Danny Edwards (2), George Archer (2), Billy Casper (2), Doug Sanders (2) and Byron Nelson (2) as multiple winners.
In the first tournament played in August, PGA TOUR rookie Brandt Snedeker won the inaugural Wyndham Championship and became the 13th first-time winner in tournament history. Other first-time winners were Sam Byrd (1942), Art Doering (1951), Earl Stewart (1953), Stan Leonard (1967), Bob Goalby (1958), Bud Allin (1971), Danny Edwards (1977), Seve Ballesteros (1978), Joey Sindelar (1985), Steve Elkington (1990), Mike Springer (1994) and Frank Nobilo (1997). In December, Snedeker was named the PGA TOUR’s Rookie of the Year with his Wyndham Championship title as the center- piece of his rookie season. Also in 2007, the board that oversees tournament operations was renamed the Piedmont Triad Charitable Foundation Board reflecting the continued regionalization of the Piedmont Triad’s PGA TOUR event. In addition, the Donald Ross-designed course at Sedgefield Country Club was restored to its original design and modernized for today’s PGA TOUR players. The $3 million restoration process, led by Donald Ross course expert Kris Spence, took 10 months to complete, and the course re-opened to members in September. After the Wyndham Championship concluded, tournament officials began negotiations to move the tournament from Forest Oaks Country Club back to Sedgefield.
The Wyndham Championship returned to Sedgefield Country Club beginning with the 2008 tournament. In a February 20 news conference, tournament officials cited a restored Donald Ross original golf course, close proximity to
the Grandover Resort where most players and sponsors stay as well as a course located much closer to the center of the Piedmont Triad as reasons for moving the tournament. The course returned to the PGA TOUR covering some 7,117 yards and playing to a par 70. After 31 years at Forest Oaks Country Club, the Wyndham Championship would again be contested on one of the courses where the tournament began in 1938. NC State alumnus Carl Pettersson won the 2008 tournament posting four rounds in the 60s and setting the 72-hole tournament- record score of 259, 21-under-par. Pettersson is the player representative on the Piedmont Triad Charitable Foundation Board of Directors, the body that oversees tournament opera- tions. After the tournament, the PGA TOUR named the Wyndham Championship its most-improved tournament for 2008.
The 70th Wyndham Championship might be remembered for torrential rains that disrupted play during the first and third rounds, but the playoff that determined the winner was more memorable than fairways that looked more like rivers than a PGA TOUR venue. Although the tournament concluded as scheduled on Sunday, each of the first three rounds was com- pleted the day after it began. During the final round, Sergio Garcia seemed in control of the tournament, but he was unable to sustain the level of play needed to take the title. He needed to hole a shot from the greenside bunker at the par four 18th hole to join a playoff with Jason Bohn, Kevin Stadler and Ryan Moore. On the third playoff hole, Moore made birdie to clinch his first PGA TOUR victory and become the tournament’s 14th first-time winner.
2010 was a year of firsts for Arjun Atwal and the Wyndham Championship. In addition to his nine previous international wins, Atwal picked up his first career PGA TOUR victory and became the first Indian-born player ever to win
a PGA TOUR event. He also became the first Monday qualifier to emerge victorious on the TOUR in 24 years. It was a first for the Wyndham Championship because for the first time in PGA TOUR history, patrons were allowed to bring cell phones to the course. Atwal tied Carl Pettersson’s two-year-old Wyndham course record with a first-round 61; 2007 Wyndham champion Brandt Snedeker was hot on his heels, shooting 63 for second place. After the second round, the two were tied for the lead at 12-under-par. With three pairs of consecutive birdies during his third round, Atwal built a three-stroke lead, shoot- ing a 5-under 65 to reach 17-under 193. Atwal was at 19 under for most of the final round until he bogeyed the par three 12th hole. Minutes later, Lucas Glover bogeyed 14 while Justin Leonard, John Rollins and David Toms birdied No. 16. At that moment, seven players shared the lead at 18 under par. Atwal, birdied the 16th hole and added pars on 17 and 18 to win the Wyndham by a single stroke over David Toms for a thrilling victory.
One of the best fields in tournament history challenged Sedgefield Country Club in 2011, but for the 16th time in tournament history, the Wyndham produced a first-time winner in Wake Forest alumnus Webb Simpson. Three-time major winner and World Golf Hall of Fame member Ernie Els, three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, 2010 FedExCup champion Jim Furyk, world No. 16 Paul Casey, world No. 17 Ian Poulter, world No. 18 Kyung-Tae Kim, world No. 19 David Toms, 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover, 2011 FedExCup champion Bill Haas, 2008 Masters winner Trevor Immelman, 2008 champion Carl Pettersson, three-time major winner Vijay Singh, two-time major winner Angel Cabrera, 2007 champion Brandt Snedeker, 1997 British Open winner Justin Leonard, two-time Wyndham winners Rocco Mediate and Davis Love III made up the fantastic field. Despite the all-star cast, Simpson, the Raleigh, N.C. native, was the star of the show navigating the Donald Ross-designed course in 18-under-par 262 and finishing second in the final FedExCup point standings. In addition, Derek Lamely made a hole-in-one at the par three 16th hole on Friday and won “Vacations for Life” courtesy of Wyndham Worldwide.